Aireon ALERT Service To Query Last Known Position Of Aircraft In Distress
Source : Internal ~ Dated : Thursday, April 2, 2015 @ 04:40 PM
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Cyriel Kronenburg, Vice President, Aireon

Cyriel Kronenburg, Vice President, Aireon

In an interview with Flightit.net, Cyriel Kronenburg, Vice President, Aireon talks about the company's new emergency tracking solution, Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT) service.

Questions and Answers

Q : Could give an overview on your new emergency tracking solution, Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT) service? Is it cost-effective?

Cyriel Kronenburg :

With a global constellation of space-based ADS-B receivers set to go live in 2017, Aireon will have a global air traffic surveillance capability. Having that data will enable the provision of a free of charge emergency response service to pre-registered airlines and ANSPs. This service, known as ALERT will allow airlines, ANSPs and rescue coordination centers to query the last known position or track of any ADS-B equipped aircraft in a distress or alert phase, anywhere on earth. Unlike other emergency response options, Aireon will not require aircraft operators, States or ANSPs to invest in any additional equipment or subscribe to a contract services. As long as the aircraft are ADS-B equipped, we will be able to see them.

Q : Your ALERT Service will receive location data twice per second. Can you tell us how this is done?

Cyriel Kronenburg :

An ADS-B transponder on the aircraft will broadcast a precise location twice a second, Aireon will be able to receive all the transmissions from the top mounted antenna, varying around the globe, between every second, to every 8 seconds. Current systems, provided airlines are capable of equipping with the required avionics, are limited both geographically and in update intervals (up to 15 minutes apart). Aireon ALERT will be the only solution with a true global coverage, including oceanic, polar and remote airspace that will significantly shorten the response time for search and rescue authorities.

The backbone of the system is the Iridium NEXT global network of 72 Low Earth Orbit (LEO), satellites which are being launched. The satellites will orbit approximately 485 miles above the earth and each satellite will be linked to four others, creating a dynamic network to ensure continuous availability, everywhere on the planet.

Q : What airlines are interested in this solution? Are you expecting any contract ahead of ALERT systems’ launch in 2017?

Cyriel Kronenburg :

This is a free service with no contract required. All we ask is that airlines, ANSPs and rescue coordination centers register in advance to be able to use of the ALERT service when global coverage is available. This service will be available 24/7 and will have an emergency call center operated by the Irish Aviation Authority at the facility in  Ballingrane, Ireland.

With the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO calling for a global flight tracking mandate once every 15 minutes, we are anticipating that most airlines and other stakeholders will take full advantage of this free service allowing them to meet this requirement, without requiring major avionics upgrades. 

Q : How will Aireon space-based ADS-B service improve air traffic surveillance over the Mediterranean airspace?

Cyriel Kronenburg :

Recently, Aireon signed an MOU with the European Blue Med Functional Airspace Block (FAB). Blue Med is made up of the ANSPs in Cyprus, Greece, Italy and Malta and their mission is to streamline the traffic flow in the airspace over the Mediterranean area under  the Single European Sky 2 (SESII) regulatory framework. Adding surveillance through space-based ADS-B in the Blue Med FAB will enable better flight paths and altitudes, increasing operational and fuel efficiency for airlines. The surveillance capability will also allow them to significantly reduce infrastructure costs, one of the Single European Sky’s primary targets.

Q : The Aireon agreement with ASECNA will look at improving the coordination with neighboring regional airspaces. Please elaborate on this.

Cyriel Kronenburg :

ASECNA provides Air Traffic Control (ATC) services to 17 African States. Currently ASECNA is evaluating how space-based services will optimize the routes within their airspace, which covers six flight information regions (FIR) including the Dakar Oceanic FIR that connects Western Africa and Europe to South America and the Caribbean. Besides improved surveillance, performance and safety in their own airspace, space based ADS-B will also enable controllers to see traffic much farther outside of their FIR boundaries, allowing for a much safer transition of flights between ATC providers and highly improved situational awareness for the region.

Like ASECNA, many other ANSPs around the world rely on their own expensive ground infrastructure or the willingness of neighboring ANSPs to provide much needed information on traffic crossing aviation boundaries. ICAO and its member States are actively pursuing System Wide Information Management (SWIM), the internet for Air Traffic Control. Aireon will make this type of data sharing for flight safety and separation purposes easy and cost effective, well within the targets set on a global scale.

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